Winter Park goes platinum |

Winter Park goes platinum

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News

Winter Park Resort opens for its 70th season today, Nov. 18. With 9.5 inches of fresh snow over the weekend, the mountain opens with three lifts – the Arrow, the Gemini Express and the Endeavor, serving two midway runs – Lower Village Way and Larry Sale. The Sorensen Park beginners area and a small portion of one terrain park, Re-railer, will also open.

“We will be opening more territory as soon as possible,” said Marketing Director Mary Woolwine.

The resort is fully staffed and lifts will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. On opening day, tickets at the window will cost $65 for adults, $45 for children, $55 for seniors and $35 for the 70-plus crowd. Half-day tickets will cost $59.

“We will be adjusting those prices as more terrain opens,” Woolwine said.

In celebration of its 70th year in business, the resort will be offering a variety of prizes and discounts from Wednesday through Sunday. There will be a chairlift prize given hourly from 9 a.m. to noon each day to the people sitting in that days “lucky” chair.

The resort will also be offering 50 percent off lessons, two-for-one tuning at resort-owned rental shops, 70-cent pancakes and 70-cent cokes at its restaurants. On Saturday, the resort will sponsor a GPS scavenger hunt on the mountain and through the village followed by an apres ski party.

One of the biggest changes on the mountain this year will be the rebranding of its six terrain parks, according to terrain park and youth marketing manager Bob Holme.

“When I came on six years ago and started building the mountain’s terrain park system, we focused on branding our largest park Railyard,” Holme said. “We were so successful with it – kids were putting the stickers on their helmets and cell phones and cars – that people wanted to be in Railyard without being aware that we have five other parks.”

To better match people with the proper park for their ability, the ski area has rebranded its entire terrain park system using a railroad theme. Railroad crossing signs mark the beginning of each terrain park and indicate what size features the park includes.

“Starter Park” keeps its name and includes small elements for beginners.

“Bouncer Park” formerly known as Snowskate Park, is located at the base and is accessible outside normal hours.

“Gangway,” previously unmarked on the map but informally referred to as Alley Way, has medium-sized features.

“Ash Cat” had long carried the name of the nearest ski run, Kendrick. It includes small to medium size features.

“Re-railer” formerly known as Dog Patch and Dog Patch East has medium-sized features.

“Railyard” will maintain its identity and will include large elements.

“Dark Territory,” located at the base of Railyard, will be the area’s most advanced terrain park and will continue to require a special pass and education program to attain entry.

“People are really going to appreciate the thought we’ve put into these new names and logos,” Holme said.

Finally, three new retail businesses will join the lineup in the base village: Back Bowl Soup Company, serving homemade soup and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches; Winter Parcade, an arcade center appealing to youth, teens and the young at heart; and, Grand Adventures/Powder Addiction, offering guided snowmobile and Sno-cat ski tours.

The season ahead has several new events that promise to bring big groups into town, Woolwine said.

Mary Jane’s Birthday Bash, which has historically taken place mid-January, will be rebranded this year as “Winter Carnival,” presented by Sprint, in celebration of the mountain’s 70th anniversary.

Winter Park Resort opened on Jan. 28, 1940.

Winter Carnival, which runs from Jan. 22-24, will include a lighted float parade, fireworks, live music, snow sculptures and costume parties, among other activities, Woolwine said.

Snow Sports Industries of America, a long-running ski show for manufacturers and buyers, will be leaving Las Vegas and coming to the Denver Convention Center this year. As a new component of the show, buyers will spend Feb. 1-2 testing equipment on the slopes.

A major coup, Winter Park was chosen over all other Colorado resorts, winning a three-year contract for the event, Woolwine said. Qualified buyers and vendors will ski for free those days testing poles, skis boots, soft goods and other gear. The resort expects up to 4,000 people in town over the course of those two days. The cross-country skiing portion of the event will take place a Devil’s Thumb Ranch.

“There is lots of opportunity for lodging with this group and we’re expecting a lot of media at the event,” Woolwine said.

Another new event this year will be the NASTAR Nationals, the world’s largest recreational ski and snowboard race program, from March 23-28. The event includes about 1,300 participants, ages 3-90, and their families. The event will be moving from Steamboat Springs, where it was held for the last 4 years. This is also a multiple year contract for Winter Park, Woolwine said.

These are only two in a long-lineup of groups coming to town this winter, Woolwine added.

Devils Thumb Ranch said its Nordic center’s official opening day was Nov. 14, but it currently doesn’t have enough snow for skiing. They hope to be up and running by Thanksgiving Weekend.

Snow Mountain Ranch’s Nordic center is open and has several trails groomed in Eagle Valley. Trails in Blue Ridge Valley aren’t expected to open until next week.

SolVista has announced on its Web site that opening day there will be Dec. 16.

– Reid Armstrong can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610 or